G Diaper Give Away….Yes…Give Away…As In FREE

Posted by organicneedle in family, green cleaning

We have all done it.  Gotten all excited about a new way of doing things that is going to be soooo much better for the environment.  We make our plan, buy our cool new supplies, and get all jazzed up.  Then reality sets in and the thing you plan just doesn’t work out as smoothly as you wanted.  It happens to all of us. (Hence my giant box of smelly worms.)
But sometimes…it can work out in YOUR favor.  My very good friend was excited when she heard about g diapers.  Seemed like the perfect solution for a very busy, yet trying to be green, lifestyle.  She bought the kit and got ready to change some poop.  Well…she put the kit up on the changing table…and well…that is about as far as it got.  (Her baby is a bit of a squirmer….beautiful…but has the strength of a greased ill tempered orangutan when getting his tushy cleaned. )  Plus, since she has a nanny she loves, she didn’t want to force a change on her too fast. Well..the little stinker outgrew the starter set before it was even opened.  Rather then toss them out she passed on to me to pass them onto you.  So if you have a person in the house who still poops their pants…and whose butt is between 13-28 lbs leave a message and these babies can be yours.
(Image is from g diaper’s website)



Audie’s Day

Posted by organicneedle in family

My baby isn’t quite a baby anymore…but is still my little ball of joy.
Audie, you are such a gift! To know you is to adore you and to be with you is to smile.  Happy birthday and thanks for being my little guy!



Stocking the Food Pantry:Longevity Vs Sustainability

Posted by organicneedle in CSA/ Local Food, family, projects

pig The past few weeks I have been pretty busy waiting for the piggie flu to infect my world, watching way too much news coverage, and hoping ol’ Bloomy will just decide to shut down all schools so that my brood and I could take off to the Keys pre 100 degree weather.  It has all been very time consuming. Now I will admit that most of my news watching has only aided in increasing my already slightly neurotic germaphobia, but there has been a tiny kernel of enlightenment.

So…here it is.  Living in one of the world’s biggest cities that literally never shuts down, I haven’t done too much planning in terms of stocking a pantry in case of a food shortage. After 9/11 my husband went through a period of evacuation prep. but this didn’t really extend to the scenario of being shut in without incoming supplies. Watching Mexico City shut most of its doors in quarantine made me think of whether I would be well stocked if such an event happened here. Fortunately for Mexico City, it didn’t last long and things never seemed to get to the point of food shortage, but it isn’t difficult to imagine what would have happened had the virus taken a different turn for a longer period.

After my husband got fairly ill last week and was in bed for 3 days with what turned out to not be the flu, I realized that our supplies were foolishly low. Thankfully, due to urban communal living and having amazing friends and neighbors whom I can rely on for the basics, a short term personal quarantine is livable. But what if we all got sick, or the city simply didn’t have incoming supplies for anyone? Would I, would you, be prepared for a large scale city shutdown or a long term personal quarantine?

So then I had to consider what constitutes a well-stocked pantry. (Keep in mind that space is always an issue.) I decided to approach the question by thinking of the basic nutritional needs met in non-perishables….grains, produce, protein, and fat. (I also had to think about what we would actually want to eat…a choice between Ebola and canned Lima beans would be a really, really, really tough call.)

So…here is what I’ve started with….

Produce : canned peaches and pineapple, apple sauce, fruit preserves, raisins, canned tomatoes, apple juice, Fruitabu (All organic except the peaches, pineapple, and tomatoes.)

Grains : organic brown rice, whole grain packaged pasta, dry cereals, organic oats, packaged granolas, granola bars, whole wheat and white flour and other bread making staples, canned corn, falafel mix

Protein : Dried and canned beans in case cooking isn’t an option, dried lentils, peanut butter, peanuts, almonds, canned tuna, canned salmon, anchovies, turkey jerky, tahini

Fat : sealed olive oil, peanuts, almonds and peanut butter count here too

Convenience Items : salt, pepper, mustard, soy sauce, red curry, various spices, coffee, tea, etc.

head soup Now there are a few things that didn’t thrill my inner greenie about this adventure. One…not everything I wanted could be found readily in organic….like no sugar canned peaches and pineapple. (There are organic tomatoes but in my haste to get the job done I bought what was in stock at the store.) Also…obviously part of the preservation of the products is that they are well and heavily packaged in plastic…meaning bulk and paper is pretty much out. And the whole local thing…not so much. (I plan to try to rectify this a little with the upcoming CSA season…more on my cluelessness in that area later in the week.)

So…what have I missed? What other fruits and veggies can survive the can?   Any tips? What do you consider pantry must-haves? How do you reconcile longevity with sustainability? Or when they shut down your city do you just plan on eating the neighbors?



Soap On A Rope Twisted Green: Introducing the Organic Cotton Soap Saver ** CALLING ALL GUINEA PIGS!!!!**

Posted by organicneedle in energy, family, organic cotton, organicneedle, organicneedle bags

Let me tell you…the ol’ needle has been in total slug mode lately.  Not sure if it is the weather, old age, or a serious case of hotdog fingers…but I haven’t been inspired to create much of anything new.  But all that changed the other day in the shower as I was attempting to chase the last sliver of my Burt’s Milk & Shea Butter Soap around the tub.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a more dignified way of being a soap conservationist?  And then I remembered a trick my grandparents used.  They used to have a little dish where they would just park the old slivers.  When they collected enough they actually pressed them into a new bar.  I have no intention of buying or building a soap press, but it did get the ol’ brain operating again.  What about an organic mesh bag that could hold the scraps AND/OR be used as a little scrubber at the same time?  Huh?  Huh?    The porous slightly scratchy nature of my organic cotton natural mesh seems like it would be perfect for the job.  Such a bag could also hold a fresh bar, allowing it to be hung and dried out thoroughly between uses…less waste than sitting in a pool of it’s own soap juice.

The bag is quite simple…just 2x organic cotton mesh with organic cotton cording.  No added chemicals to your routine.  I could add a tagua nut to make it fancy or these new wooden buttons I have my eye on…but we can chat more on that once I’ve perfected functionality.guneashower

Now, as usual I will be needing some guinea pigs, preferable ones who bathe a lot and use bar, not liquid soap.  Now…if you plan on using it as a scrubber, it should be a one per customer kind of deal for obvious hygiene reasons.  (If the soap bag makes it through trials, I will probably offer either different choices in cord color or add a tagua nut for personal ID purposes.) If you are just going to use it as a sliver collector for future pressing or as a bar drier, than by all means invite as many people into your shower as per your wont. Any takers? Anyone out there willing to get in the tub with for me?  If so, leave a comment.

As usual, I never give anything away without making you work for it.  Your assignment…should you choose to accept: wash yourself for 2 weeks and then answer these questions.

1.  If you used it as a whole soap bar drier was the bag a proper size to hold your typical bar of soap?  If not…give me some dimensions.  Was the string a good length?

2.  If you used it as a scrubber, was the texture to your liking?  Did the material hold up well?

3.  Did you have any issues with my arch nemesis mildew, mustiness, or mold?

4.  Does this seem like something you would REALLY use long term?  Why or why not?

4.  Any thoughts, concerns, major complaints…keep it relative to the bag people….ideas for improvement?

I’ll be sending out 2 for trials next Friday…so you have until then to put your name in the pot.



Save NYC Wildlife!!!!!

Posted by organicneedle in Economics, family

Yes…we have wildlife…in our zoos and aquariums, but maybe not for long.  Today while I was visiting the NY Aquarium I was reminded of the really ridiculous proposition of Governor Paterson.He is proposing cutting state funding for our WCS, Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the cities 5 zoos and the NY Aquarium.  walrus Now keep in mind, these places bring in millions of tourist dollars and tax revenue…so we are not really talking about SAVING the city or state a great deal financially in the long run.  More importantly, besides supplying us city folk with a desperately needed connection to nature, the WCS is a leader in conservationism around the world.  (In fact, today we visited a very famous baby walrus, Akituusaq, the first ever to have his birth filmed.  Gotta love that face.)  Check out WCS’s website to see all of the amazing conservation programs they are responsible for, some may even be in your backyard.  WCS provides so many outreach programs to help all of us see how our actions can impact just about every ecosystem…from 5th avenue to the Amazon Basin. For me & countless other NYC families, they have been such an amazing resource in helping us teach our children a crucial message…it is all one world and we are all connected, not an easy task when you live in one of the world’s largest cities.  So if you are a NY state resident, sign this petition and speak for all the creatures who can’t speak for themselves, and let them know that this is not the place to cutback.  Or perhaps you too would like a little visit from my little friend?


Hey Paterson…you want to do what with my money? Let’s chat, shall we?



Wash Your Hands and Call Poison Control

Posted by organicneedle in family

Let me tell ya a fun little story. Last Friday my 2&1/2 year old was in the potty doing his business almost into the potty. Suddenly from the hall I hear gagging. Of course I fly in there to find my baby with foam around his mouth. Fairly certain he wasn’t rabid, I deduced it was soap. He said he went to take a drink but forgot to rinse the soap out of his hands first. At first I’m thinking…OK it is soap…probably OK…lemme take a looksy at the bottle. IF INGESTED CALL POISON CONTROL IMMEDIATELY . And you bet your sweet caboose I did.soap bottle

They were awesome. I guess this happens all the time. The antibacterial agent in the soap is in fact toxic, but most kids puke it up as soon as it goes down. Mine didn’t…but she said he probably didn’t get enough in him to have a reaction if he was simply washing his hands and not drinking from the soap bottle. But it got me thinking, as does any high risk situation that requires emergency medical attention for my precious spawnage…such as washing ones hands apparently. So now I am on the market for a soap that will kill germs..but not my kids. I will take any suggestions from the audience.  Keep in mind…my kids are really filthy.  (Love them dearly…but little boys can have a slight tendency to be out and out…well…gross.)

*The photo is from BreadandBadger’s Etsy shop.  They make some really cool glass dispensers that I plan on getting my hands on as soon as my swarm of toddlers outgrow the Lemme juggle anything expensive looking phase.



Baby Soap Review

Posted by organicneedle in family, product review

We have been working on ridding a lot of the unnecessary disposable plastic from our shower for awhile now. Shampoo bottles, body washes and scrubs have been replaced with more natural versions that come in plastic free paper boxes. Overall it has been a pretty stress free & successful transformation.  The one area we have been glossing over is the baby soap department.  A few years back an aunt gave me literally about a 3 year supply of various baby washes all coming in big ol’ plastic bottles.  Not wanting to waste, we’ve been using them up.   Now we are finally on the last bottle and it is time to get the munchkins in on the green soap wagon. So far we have tried out two.whale

Kiss My Face Whale of a Soap Orange U Smart

Price: $5.96 for 2 3.5 ounce whales.

Packaging: Plastic free 100% recycled paper, 100% recyclable.

Product: I love that it is 7 little nontoxic ingredients.  My kids love the shape.  It comes in a two pack which is good for my little guys.  Neither little guy had a reaction to it…which they can to harsher soaps. It seemed to clean well enough.  The one thing that would perhaps prevent me from getting this soap again is the strength of the smell.  Sweet sassy mallassy they are a little heavy handed with the orange oil over at Kiss My Face.  The boys didn’t mind smelling like a citrus grove…but it was a wee much for the one whose got to smell them all day long.

Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap
burt baby

Price: $4.99 for one 3.5 ounce bar.

Packaging: 80% recycled plastic free paper box.  100 % recyclable.

Product: Again…love the simplicity; 6 natural little ingredients.  This soap was much creamier and moisturizing than the Kiss My Face.  The boys liked it too….despite being a perfectly unenjoyable round shape.  The smell is so soft and clean it makes them smell like babies again.  Can I make them use this soap forever?

So despite the significantly higher price, I will be washing the munchkins with Burt.  But if you don’t mind people trying to squeeze the juice out of your kids all day, the Kiss My Face Whales work too.



Art Waste…An Unchartered Green Territory

Posted by organicneedle in family, product review, projects, recycling

Art of all sorts is very important to raising well balanced kids…and a quasi-sane mama.   pig I, therefore, have often turned my big green eye away from any of its less then green aspects. We’ve always been big about using the backs of paper, letters, envelopes, boxes, even paper packing material for drawing and enjoy making musical instruments out of would-be recyclies, but that is about as green as we get in the world of art.  The other day, as I was prying out yet another dried up wad of Play Doh from the heater and tossing it and its respective plastic container in the trash, I thought perhaps it is time to explore some greener options. I did a little research and came up with two very doable and fun greener art options for the little ones.

First…Recycling Crayon Nubs

Now…we don’t seem to end up with a ton of nubs.  My kids are pretty good about using them pretty close to up and then they often fall victim to the vacuum.  The crayons ….not the kids.  But it is still a really cool idea for not only getting a little more wear out of the crayons, but also serves as a really cool art project and science lesson in one. Teensygreen gives detailed instructions for this one.

Homemade Play Doh

Now this is a big saver for us. My 2&1/2 yr old has secret stashes of Play Doh all over the house…which I only find moments after they have hit that awful so-crusty-no-kid-will-use-it point of no return. I found a great collection of recipes on an occupational therapy website. My kids loved making this mock Play Doh. We tried the no cook version and had great success except for the coloring part. I forgot to mix it into the water and tried to kneed it in post dough…but that just colored everyone and everything blue.  Our Blue Period we’ll call it.  You can easily skip the food coloring if your kids will allow it and still have a really cool dough.  Did I mention you can eat it?  Don’t like the way that alien you sculpted is looking at you? Bite its head off.

We’ve made definite progress but there is still one major art supply that adds A LOT of plastic waste to the ol’ garbage: markers. My kids love them and aren’t spectacular about putting the caps back on tightly so many end their walk on this earth depressingly early.  (We are working on the cap issue.)  Yes…they could use crayons or pencils which have greener paths, but they LOVE markers…the vibrancy, the glide, the ability to give each other very convincing mustaches.  Really at a loss with this one.   Anyone have a green marker alternative ideas? I would love any other green art options that anyone has tried.  It has been a long ass winter trapped inside, people…and frankly I’m running out of ideas to keep the little runts from eating each other for fun.



Plan Toys: Great Green Gifts for Little Green Goblins

Posted by organicneedle in family, recycling

A week or two ago I tried to compile a list of companies and products that try to go full circle in the recycling process by using recycled material in their products or packaging.  Well…I am thrilled to add to the list the Plan Toy  company. Plan Toys actually has an environmental PLAN! And their toys are adorable. farm A friend of mine gave this great set to my toddler who is a huge animal freak…especially piggie piggies. How cute is this? The sheep can even be sheered!

OK…so what makes Plan Toy a member of the full circle club?

These toys are actually completely nontoxic and eco-friendly. The toys are made from rubber trees that no longer can provide rubber. Apparently rubber trees only produce rubber for about 25 years and then are chopped down and replaced. The wood used to be considered fairly worthless…until Plan Toys started using it. Their balanced approach to harvesting and replanting has ensured that the rubber tree forests will remain in tact and healthy…and simultaneously allows the local economy to thrive. In addition to the wood, they use only soy and water based inks and dyes. No questionable chemicals floating about. So if your turn ons include reading long lists of lead warnings for your kids’ toys…Plan Toys aren’t for you.

Now the product alone makes them full circle cyclists…but it gets even better. Packaging….NOOOOOOOOOO PLASTIC!!!!!! Toys come in a 100% recycled paperboard box.  Plus the individual parts are bagged in 100% recycled paper.  In case you missed it….NO PLASTIC.  No enormous clam shell to rip your hands open on while your kid loses his mind in anticipation.  You can actually let your kids open the toys themselves!  And after the opening excitement is over everything can be recycled in the paper bin.  Better yet…since they use no adhesive on the the little white paper bags used to wrap the toys they can be reused for something else before recycling.   It seems so simple…and yet so far from anything else any other toy company is doing.

I love discovering products like this because not only does it give me a place to get well thought out adorable toys without the taint of over packaging and fast disposability…but it also shows that green business CAN be done.  Plan Toys is making money, employing people, being a member of an active economy and business world AND being green, protecting an environment and its indigenous inhabitants, and responsibly following its products through to the end of the line.  Manufactures and environmentalists do not have to be mortal enemies. So good to know…yet I will miss the cage matches.



Freshaire Choice No VOC Paint Review

Posted by organicneedle in family, plastic, product review, projects

freshaire My apartment, other than the recently painted boys’ room, is in desperate need of a coat of paint.  I used Benjamin Moore’s Aura for my son’s room and was very pleased with its VOCless goodiness.  At $60 a can, however, it was a wee bit pricey for a big project.  One thing I didn’t mention in my review was that it actually took almost 2x as much paint for good coverage with the no VOC paint verses the old kind, which is something to consider when planning your paint budget and brings me to why I tried this new paint.  Our living room is easily 4x the size, plus the hall and breakfast nook are getting the same color…meaning we will need about 5 gallons of the stuff.  Suddenly $60 a can seems a little pricier than before.  So I decided to try another VOC Free paint Freshaire Choice, at a mere $35 a gallon. Still not the cheapest, but certainly worth the lack of chemical intake and worth a try.

I started with the hall just in case it was a dud. I must say…it was fine. Now Aura had no smell. Freshaire had a slight smell…not really chemically…but a little odor like silly putty. I did have some slight bubbling over a few spots I had patched with compound and not bothered to prime…but not sure I could blame the paint for my laziness.  Overall the color was even and vibrant…with a second coat. I must say…can’t really see too much of a difference to justify the $25 a can more for Aura.

The only drawback I have found so far is that they do not have as many color choices.  The ones they do have are absolutely beautiful nature inspired hues…but they might not be for everyone…like nature haters.  We went with Tranquil Pond.  I’m hopin it will have a calming effect on my little beasties and myself.  Ah…who am I kidding.  Nothing would tame my brood.  Perhaps Tranquilizer Pond.  I feel calmer just thinking about it.